A while back I wrote about the importance of your mom support network and who you might want in it. I have been planning to write again on the topic of friends because it’s one that I think is so important. It can be a challenge to connect with others moms and create real, long-lasting friendships. My process for writing includes taking breaks to work on other tasks. While taking one of these breaks, I happened to come across a post about the secret to work/life balance for moms. This post was definitely up my alley so instead of saving it for later, I stopped to read it.
The author, Andrea Stang of The Write at Home Mom, did a great job in her post highlighting the current reality for many moms: when we are the ones taking on more of the family responsibilities and rather than quit work altogether, many of us are deciding to are take a different route. Many women, like myself and Andrea are choosing to work from home, taking our profession in a less-than-traditional direction. It’s often called freelancing, being an entrepreneur, or a mompreneur, but many moms are choosing to continue to work, and on their own terms and with their own rules.
So how does this relate back to friendship?
Well, for me it goes back in part to what ultimately inspired the creation of Get Mom Balanced. Several years ago, though I wasn’t blogging, I was a working mom running my own business and spending much of my work life working from home. In a given week I’d work 20-35 hours with at least half of that from home. I felt that many of my friends didn’t “get” the reality of my work-life balance; it felt like people didn’t understand what my job was (mental skills training for athletes, teaching and writing) and it felt like people didn’t understand that when I was at home I was actually working.
Because my friends didn’t understand my work, which is an important part of my life and identity, they didn’t 100% understand me. It was tough. I didn’t expect everyone to be able to understand, but it was hard feeling like no one in my circle could relate to or understand a large part of my life. Though Get Mom Balanced is not just about working moms, one hope is that it serves to connect moms with others who understand what you are going through.
Prior to launching the blog on May 1, 2016, I had done a lot of research and writing. I had also worked with a couple of friends to get the site stared. And when Get Mom Balanced was launched, I was in it alone. I was trying to learn, understand, create and grow the blog. Both working from home and blogging can be solitary endeavors. However, it was through the process of diving into blogging that all of a sudden I was no longer “alone.” I quickly discovered a whole network of people through Facebook who are on similar journeys in their own work and life.
Finding friends in groups
I’ve been fortunate enough to be involved in several fanatic Facebook groups with other bloggers, creators and entrepreneurs. Some are moms, some are not. What connects us is that we are all working to create something and be successful at it (though we define success differently). It may seem that relationships forged online are less real or meaningful than face-to-face friendships. Prior to blogging, I felt that way too.
However, through joining networks on Facebook:
- I met Krista from Blog Beautifully who has become my Fairy Blogmother. Not only has she helped me immensely professionally (I could write a post on this alone!!) but she and I have developed a genuine friendship. We exchange multiple emails a week covering both the personal and professional. We definitely cheer each other on and are excited for each other’s progress. Though we’re very different in a lot of ways, we’re similar in important areas that led to a real friendship.
- I’ve had the opportunity to meet amazing people whose perspectives I am excited to share with GMB readers. Take, for example, Sandra from Keep in the Sunshine. She wrote 2 amazing posts on Setting Limits with Kids that have been shared over 2000 times on Pinterest! My hope for this site is I share not only my perspective, but the valuable perspectives of others. I’ve connected with fantastic people who are happy to share their experience and expertise with the readers of this site. And chances are, some of these working relationships will evolve into work friendships.
- I have discovered so many wonderful, smart, caring women. In a world that is clearly quick to jump to judgment and shaming of other women and moms (Google “Mom” and “Gorilla” or “Alligator” if you’re not sure what I’m talking about), this support and positivity is a breath of fresh air. Don’t get me wrong- I’m judgmental too so I’m not throwing stones from my glass house. However, I do try to be a nice person, especially on the internet where things live forever. These groups and the women in them are a needed reminder that the harshness we may experience is (hopefully) the minority.
- I’ve found support and advice from complete strangers who have so much knowledge to share. They are also open when I have perspectives that may be of value to them. I have developed working relationships, potential friendships, and increased my knowledge bank about the immense world of being a blogger. I don’t know about you, but when I’m confident and comfortable in my work environment (even if it’s at home), I’m more able to connect with others.
Here is what I’ve learned:
When it comes to developing real friends, I now have the perspective that it can happen online. Yes, there are people who can lie and tell you that they’re someone they’re not. (You should always make sure you’re protecting yourself online and in real life). And yes, there is the risk of getting hurt in an online friendship. You also won’t connect with everyone, but both of those points are true in real-life friendships also. From my experience so far, I think the potential negatives are outweighed by the immense opportunity to develop real connections.
The chance of finding someone who “gets” you expands immensely when you consider the internet as an option for friendship, connection and support. This is true especially for women (moms in particular) who are forging a new, less-traditional path in their careers. When you leave the traditional work environment, you also leave the traditional paths to develop work friends who may become genuine friends. Lack of work-friends doesn’t have to be the trade-off for working from home. If you’re taking steps to be unconventional in your work-life, think about being a bit unconventional with your friendships as well.
Work at home moms in particular: what have your experiences been with work-friendships that are developed online?